By Owen Jarus | LiveScience.com
Hidden in a necropolis situated high in the mountains of the Caucasus in Russia, researchers have discovered the grave of a male warrior laid to rest with gold jewelry, iron chain mail and numerous weapons, including a 36-inch (91 centimeters) iron sword set between his legs.
That is just one amazing find among a wealth of ancient treasures dating back more than 2,000 years that scientists have uncovered there.
The burial of the warrior was richly adorned and contained more than a dozen gold artifacts. This fibula-brooch, despite being only 2.3 by 1.9 inches in size, contains intricate decorations leading towardthe center where a rock crystal bead is mounted.
Among their finds are two bronze helmets, discovered on the surface of the necropolis. One helmet (found in fragments and restored) has relief carvings of curled sheep horns while the other has ridges, zigzags and other odd shapes.
Although looters had been through the necropolis before, the warrior’s grave appears to have been untouched. The tip of the sword he was buried with points toward his pelvis, and researchers found "a round gold plaque with a polychrome inlay" near the tip, they write in a paper published in the most recent edition of the journal Ancient Civilizations from Scythia to Siberia.
This iron axe is one of many weapons found with the burial of the warrior.
The remains of three horses, a cow and the skull of a wild boar were also found buried near the warrior.
"These animals were particularly valuable among barbarian peoples of the ancient world. It was [a] sign of [the] great importance of the buried person, which was shown by his relatives and his tribe," wrote team member Valentina Mordvintseva, a researcher at the Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences Institute of Archaeology, in an email to LiveScience. The animal bones and pottery remains suggest that a funeral feast was held in his honor.
Without written records it is difficult to say exactly who the warrior was, but rather than ruling a city or town, "he was rather a chief of a people," Mordvintseva said.
The necropolis is located near the town of Mezmay. Grave robbers discovered the site in 2004 and rescue excavations began in 2005.
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